The 10K That Wasn’t Meant To Be

Today is a first for me.  I am bowing out of a race for the first time ever.  This morning my husband and I had planned to run a 10K with a student who is prepping for a half marathon in a few weeks.  This was going to be my first race since last July, only because this was one that both fit my schedule and felt like a good time to get back into the saddle.  But earlier this week I started waking up with some pain in the bottom of my left foot.  For a girl who has suffered from full blown plantar fasciitis in the past, this was nothing to take lightly.  When I couldn’t put my full weight on my foot yesterday in the morning I knew we were in a bit of trouble.

Shoelace

Today’s race is a 10K to raise fund for a local park.

I immediately started stretching it and massaging and taped it up.  With some minimal work I was able to wake up feeling almost back to normal this morning.  But this is where it gets tricky as a runner.  Part of me would really love to do this 10K.  I wasn’t going to run a fast race to begin with.  I have recently cut my weekly mileage in half and I was planning to start doing speed training again this past week before my injury.  I really just wanted to do the race for the fun that these events provide and a chance to run faster than my normal pace.  The other reason is there is a half marathon coming up in a few weeks that I am much more excited about doing so I would rather keep myself healthy for that one.  It is a super hero event so I need my healthy feet to go walking and shopping for appropriate attire for the event.  I am in New York City after all!

It is times like these when it is important as a runner to look at the bigger picture.  I have a big coaching job coming up that is going to mean a lot of runners relying on me to help them get through some long and tough runs.  I want to start marathon training soon myself.  Sometimes you have to set aside that one run that you really want to do and decide what is best for your body.  Right now it is best for me to rest.

So what should I be doing with this injury?  Below are a few pointers (although many might find these obvious) that I find helpful:

Rest.  That might mean laying on your butt all day for a more serious injury.  In this case it means no running and light walking.  Most of the time with a minor injury walking is okay and for me I would go crazy if I couldn’t wander around in this beautiful spring weather.

Rest

Time for some R&R.  And weekend crosswords!

Medicate.  For me this means NO drugs.  I really try to avoid anti-inflammatories as much as possible.  But that doesn’t mean I can’t start putting things into my body that help heal it.  Bright green and red fruits and veggies are great at helping you to refuel and repair.  Pack on some berries and delicious salads.  Another benefit is that these are filling foods and low in calories so you won’t worry about packing on pounds while you aren’t running.

Stretch and ice.  I am terrible in the stretching department and usually most runners really don’t need that as much as a good warm up and cool down with workouts.  But when you are injured it is a great time to find just what the problem is and give it some tending to.  For me, my tight calves are the culprit of most of my foot injuries.  So downward dogs are part of my daily routine.  Pull out your foam roller or the stick and beat your body up in a different way.  Ice your injury and show it some love.  Massage the area that is hurting and if you wish use some KT tape on it.  I have learned that you can find a Youtube video on how to tape up just about any injury.

Finally, be realistic.  Give your body some time.  Injuries take awhile and you need to be fair to your body.  If it starts to feel better don’t just jump back into your routine, make sure you have given your body enough time to heal.  When you do get back to it make sure you ease back in and pay close attention to what your body is telling you.

Remember when I joked about building an ark here in New York City?  Well this was what the park looked like on Thursday after the torrential rain.  These are all puddles and were not there the day before.  Some ducks even set up shop at one of the locations.  Pop up lake house.  I like it!

Flood1

Flood2

Happy running!

Let’s Have A Sole Talk

Wishing you Happy Feet!

Wishing you Happy Feet!

I know, I know, there is nothing more you want to read about on Monday morning than feet.  It’s not a glamorous topic, and if you are running they are likely pretty ugly.  But those bad boys deserve some special attention.  After all, our feet are the main reason we are able to log all those miles.

When we walk our feet strike the ground approximately 1700 times per mile each time at an impact of 3 times our body weight.  Switch your speed up to a running pace and you are now landing with an impact of 10 times your body weight every time you strike the ground.

If you weigh 170 pounds that adds up to 1700 pounds of force with every foot strike.  This means that if you run a mile, you will accumulate a total of 2,890,000 pounds of force!

With staggering numbers like those it is not a surprise that 75% of Americans will suffer from some foot ailment during their life time.  Approximately 15% of all running injuries each year occur somewhere in the feet.  Women are four times as likely as men to suffer foot injuries.

There are a few things you can do to take care of your feet and help them keep you logging all of those miles:

Your feet have 250,000 sweat glands (I know, gross!).  That’s a lot of sweat.  If you aren’t properly outfitted for a run this could become quite a problem.  Cotton is not your friend when it comes to socks.  Cotton absorbs and does not wick.  Once all that sweat absorbs into your socks, they will start to chafe and form blisters.  Make sure you wear synthetic fibers or a combination of cotton and synthetic for your socks.  Right now wool is a good way to go if you are in a cold weather climate.  I’ve said it before, I highly recommend Smart Wool brand socks.

These are made for ski and snowboarders so they have excellent compression in the feet and stay up.

These are made for ski and snowboarders so they have excellent compression in the feet and stay up.

I didn’t know this about cotton until recently.  The other day I wore a cotton gaiter on a 10 mile run in single digit temperatures.  Half way through my run the gaiter actually froze into a solid mass.  Not only did this ruin the whole point of keeping my face warm but it also froze my neck from the ice it had collected.  Wool and synthetics good, cotton bad!

One of the most common foot ailments runners come across is plantar fasciitis, caused by small tears and inflammation in the fascia under your foot.  It can be detected by a dull or even sharp pain in the heel, often most pronounced in the morning when you first put weight on your feet.

To avoid this in the first place it is essential that runners have properly fitted shoes with plenty of arch support.  Once you are running it is important to follow the 10% rule.  As you build a training program, avoid increasing your mileage by more than 10% of the total from the prior week. This will allow your body ample time to both improve and recover.

If you do find yourself with this injury there are a few things you can do to help speed recovery.  First, take some time off of running and stay off your feet as much as you can.  Massage your feet, especially your heel, deeply with your fingers.  Freeze a water bottle and roll it under your feet in the evening.  Use a golf ball to roll under your foot for additional massage.  Wear crocs around your house to take any additional impact off of your heel and the fascia.  I also recommend an insole made for runners that will provide some additional lift in  the arch.  Super Feet makes insoles for all different purposes including long and short distance running, ice skates, and even high heels.  You can find them in almost any running or shoe store.  Check them out at www.superfeet.com.

For my distance running I wear the pink insoles.

For my distance running I wear the pink insoles.

Most importantly, stretch your calves.  Do some downward facing dogs and stretch your calves with your feet up against the wall.  A lot of plantar injuries stem from tight calf muscles.  Trust me…I have been there!

It is very important for any runner to take some time to care for your feet.  Make sure you wash them thoroughly and dry them every evening after you have finished your exercises for the day to help avoid bacteria or fungus from forming.  Clip your nails often to avoid pushing them into the front of your shoes which causes bruising and can make your nails fall out.  Wear proper socks and shoes (go to your local running store for some assistance).  Find time to massage your feet and wear something to keep them safe and comfy when you are at home.

As a side note, when I was writing about the multitude of sweat glands in our feet it reminded me of an embarrassing moment I had one summer.  It was really hot and humid and I was determined to get a long run in.  I was sweating so hard that I could hear the sweat squishing in my shoes.  It was one of many times that I have actually been disgusted by my own self as I ran.

A car pulled up along side me and slowed down and the driver just stared at me.  I kept my cool and avoided shouting something or waving hand signals, but I was furious.  When I arrived home I immediately went to take a shower and then I saw myself in the mirror.  I had soap suds all down my legs!  When I washed my running clothes the night before they must not have gotten completely rinsed out in the wash.  All of that sweat had brought out the suds in my clothes.  No wonder the driver slowed down.  I can’t even imagine what he thought was on me!

At least it didn't get this bad!

At least it didn’t get this bad!

A Pair of Crocs at Night- Runner’s Delight

Crocs1

Seriously!

Two summers ago I was logging long miles and two-a-days for the first time in my life.  All was going well, minus what I thought might be a stress fracture in my toe (but that doesn’t count), when I finished my first trail run with my husband.  Suddenly my achy feet had taken a turn for the worse.  I had a hot stabbing pain in my heel that I just couldn’t shake.

Admittedly I knew right away what it was but I was in the first stage of a runner’s injury: DENIAL.  I looked on every website for an alternate answer.  I took a day off followed by a treadmill run, because in my messed up runner’s head that was the prescription for shaking the nagging injury.

Finally, after two months of excruciating pain from the moment I woke up, I went to a podiatrist.  I thought I would trick him by giving him my symptoms, and he would magically tell me there was a shot for that.  And then he said it…..

“You have plantar fasciitis.”

No!!!!!!  I had read about plantar fasciitis in Runners World in the past and often thought, “That sounds horrible.  Thank goodness I’ve never had that.”  Well there I was.

And then he delivered what I thought was the next bad news.  “I want you to go out and buy a pair of Crocs.  Wear them whenever you are at home and out of your sneakers.”

I hated Crocs.  I would turn my nose whenever I saw them and think they were the ugliest things ever, save when Mario Batali pulls them off with his vests (I am a huge fan of The Chew).

I bet he has some healthy fascia!  (Note that he can do it with wine)

I bet he has some healthy fascia! (Note that he can do it with wine)

And thus began my nightly routine of walking around our home in Crocs.  Once you get past the funny look, these bad boys are pretty amazing.  The comfortable shoes have plenty of room for your toes and a nice cup for the heel.  It provides the padding and support your feet need to help the tissues repair.  They are not going to cure your injury, but it will provide the protection for the bottom of your foot against the floor as it heals.

During physical therapy I asked when I could go back to bare feet.  “Never,” was the response.  Once you have plantar fasciitis, just like a sprain or a strain you are more susceptible to re-injury.  Just suck it up and slip them on your feet when you get home.  To be honest, I have gone on vacation and forgotten to bring my Crocs along.  I can tell a noticeable difference in my feet when I go barefoot for too long.

To make it more appealing, Crocs come in other versions than the big orange ones you see Mario wear.  Check out my cute, somewhat strappy pair.  They have little “jewels” on the side and come in lots of different colors.  You can look slightly fashionable in these and they are coming out with more styles all the time.  Any pair of rubber Crocs will do the trick.

A word of caution.  I may have been a professional skater, but I have a serious lack of coordination anywhere off of the ice.  When wearing Crocs on wooden floors, I sometimes forget to pick my feet up as I walk (let’s pretend its from all those years on the ice) and I scuff my feet with the rubber of the shoes and the floor.  This causes me to trip.  If you have any amount of coordination whatsoever, you should be fine.  But I add it as a disclaimer for all my not so graceful friends, especially after a glass of wine.  By the way, my husband finds this to be pretty amusing and I can’t blame him.

I can do this.  Yes that is me.

I can do this. Yes that is me.

But I can't do this!

But I can’t do this!